Wednesday, 20 July 2016

All Hail the The Doom-Mongers

Crossing the flyover at Inveresk's Cowpits road, I glance down on the hurtling by-pass traffic and the nagging boards predicting "dangerous heavy rain". An incongruous prophecy illuminated by a balmy sun and an innocently clear sky heavy with humidity. They're not the only portenders; the weather bloggers are in gloating anticipation and have been for five days; the Met Office have been splashing colour coded warnings and spattering their maps with exclamation triangles. Some 'casters are predicting inches of precipitation. Meanwhile the 'press' are sticking to the today and now. It's that time when sub-editors reach for their "woohoo, what a scorcher" clichés, report on water fights that descend into blood and riots, when our politicians debate work-place temperatures (apparently I should desist from bicycle riding when the thermometer passes twenty-seven degrees....the chance would be a fine thing), and sane people go paddling in the North Sea.

That was yesterday. This is today.

Four hours after sunrise!

I rise, to find we've returned to yet another schizophrenic Scottish summer's day. Yesterday's fleecy jacket, today's suncream, tomorrow's non-weather day. No-wind; no-colour; no pyrotechnic storm. Just a light shower of rain sometime in the night. It would seem that the forecasters have miscalculated.

Now suddenly.....

Now the dusk. The purple bruised sky develops an ominous green tinge. The flag that was hanging limp suddenly rips taut, straining at tethers, an empty bin rumbles driverless down the street, whilst traffic headlamps and the butcher's illuminated window only accentuate this gathering gloom. It's Dickensian. All the portends are there for an early autumnal evening, if it wasn't for the fact that it's a high-summer's morning rush hour.

Now...the hail. A staccato of explosions on our window, shot blasting moss from the roof, gouging the grout of weeds from paving slabs, sending them to flow away down spate gutters. Roof rhones are overwhelmed, petunia blossoms are shredded from hanging baskets.

Now...the rain. Globular dollops racing down windowpanes and a wisteria vine shiver-trembling under the onslaught. Hosta leaves growing beads of silvered mercury, underprepared shoppers scurrying for shelter, all to the accompaniment of rumbling thunders.

Now...the decision. How best to take advantage of this peculiar weather event. To blog, errand or procrastinate. I try all three.

Turn to social media, only to realise that what I had assumed was lightning flash was in part, more likely 'phone cameras. The sphere is awash with storm-pics, which only helps confirm my belief that we in Scotland live in a realm of benign weathers. True, it is an unusually spectacular storm, but only in local terms, one that would be considered unremarkable on the foreshores of the River Plate.

Just another Uruguayeño Storm.
To Errand. Our Post Office, like everybody's post office comes with queue management and the mandatory column of penitents awaiting absolution or a first class stamp. More often it's a grand way of forfeiting a percentage of your day, earwigging into inconsequential natter and speculating as to why the queue apparently expands. I enter; the place is empty. Still I have to locate the entrance to the maze, then meander my way through the labyrinth to an expectant teller. "...bit damp....some morning....", weather prefixes, conversational intros that must have a further five days'-worth of life.
To Procrastinate. The foregoing are but displacement activities, and there are many more that I could contemplate. All generally involve drinking coffee. Only the bathroom is denuded of wallpaper, pock-marked by extracted nails and creeping cracks. It has been that way for some time, a job earmarked for the next wet day.
Today is undeniably that wet day.
Only Act Two of the storm commences, the DIY can wait. I grab a coffee and settle down watch the weather forecasters' validation.


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Rite of Passage

"Some local authorities offer concessionary travel schemes which enable local residents who are elderly....."


So it's official!

I'm Elderly.

For my eighteenth, give or take a day or four, I got to leave home. For my twenty-first I got two non-steel screw-gate carabiners; for my twenty-fifth, a responsible job. Thereafter it's been downhill all the way. Forty came and went; it was, after all the new thirty, which still didn't help, I still can't remember it's significant memory attachment. Fifty must have happened, if only because sixty has now appeared and has allowed me to take delivery of a new plastic card. A special plastic card, one that, if you believe the attached information, will supplant all those other cards that you can never extract from your wallet. Opening the way to a whole plethora of opportunities. What it won't open is a jar of jam.

I have my National Entitlement Card.

Card for life : photo for life. Oh blast!

I've moved away from that unique specimen and joined the ranks of the masses. No longer that oddity, the solitary passenger who fumbles for coinage to acquiesce with the bus company's latest surprise fare hike. No longer required to raid the darkest recesses of jacket pockets or purchase an unnecessary newspaper so as to collect correct change for the exact bus fare. Now I state my destination and take a ticket, having proffered that treasured card so I can obviate the necessity for donating to the company's profits. Now, if I travel towards Edinburgh and alight in the vicinity of Meadowbank, the assumption has be Destination Mecca Bingo, although to be completely assimilated, the Unelderly, (she who will have to await a further 584 days before she can claim her elderly status symbol), will need to don a white cardigan and acquire a blue rinse bobble haircut. We will also need to be on nodding-acquaintance terms with every subsequent alighting passenger as the bus progresses towards the city.

It's the latest acquisition to my collection of those time-line rites of passage. First breath, first tooth, first step might lie in the pre-memory, but from the post-conscious eon come society's rituals, the tethers that cement you into place. Acquiring a driving licence. Quaffing a legal pint. Voting at an election. Tholing a job. Paying taxes. Buying a mortgage. Building a bicycle collection.

Now I'm an ordained, fully enrolled member of the 'concessionary traveller tribe'. I have my National Entitlement Card. I have my bus-pass. I have that wonderful incentive to bus-haul a folding bike to windward and then ride the tail-wind all the way home. I can go Brompton Bus-Passing.

Now all that is left on this degenerative slide to elderly-dom is to collect the next degradation. To proffer the evidence of claimed concessionary status, only to be moderately offended when told that it's not necessary as my wrinkles have already been counted.

Or for some spotty little oik on a crowded bus to offer me his seat.